Friday, July 14, 2006

Is This Why I'm Happier Than Many of My Married Friends?

I’m a 30-year-old Christian single woman living in Texas. If you are like me, well, then you’re probably not like me. What I mean is, most Christian single women I know, or even non-Christian single women I know, really, really want to get married. Even if they say they don’t care, they do. How to get a man, and when or if they ever will land “him,” features prominently in their thoughts, their writings, and their conversations. It's the subtext to just about everything they say or do. Me, not so much. It’s not that I have a problem with marriage per se, though most people who know me think I do (because apparently, if you don't think it's the BEST THING THAT COULD EVERY HAPPEN TO YOU, then you must just be anti-marriage). It’s just that I think if it’s what God wants for me, then I’ll get married, but if He doesn’t, then I won’t. And I have to say, I love being single. Love, love, love it. I don't particularly ever want to get married, but if I thought that's what God's plan for me was, I'd go for it. I just can’t relate to the mindset of the woman who just doesn’t think she’s complete without a man, like her life really hasn’t started until she can say she’s Mrs. Someone. I just don’t think that’s a good thing to have on your list of goals in life, because it’s too easy to marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons that way. Also, maybe God doesn’t want you to be married, and then you’ll spend your whole life bitter and unhappy, instead of concentrating on what you are supposed to using your life for. That’s not healthy!

And it turns out, people are finally, finally recognizing the benefits of being single. MSN has an article today called “Are you better off single?” by Dawn Yanek. Some of the reasons listed are: Reason #1: You have a better body; Reason #2: You’re more likely to achieve great things; Reason #6: You’re better rested and smarter; Reason #7: You’re less depressed; and Reason #8: You have better friendships.

It’s located here if you want to read it. Now if I can just get society, my friends (well, just my girl friends, my guy friends don't really bother me about it), and, oh, just about every woman I’ve ever met to stop bothering me about it.


EmmaSometimes said...

I'm the biggest advocate for women BEING Ms. Right before they marry or get involved with anyone. THEN Mr. Right finds them. It's the only way to be yourself and happy in your own skin.

SUPER duper post!


JLR said...

emma: you just said in three sentences exactly what I was trying to say. Thanks!

Deals On Wheels said...

I have an irrational fear of commitment and marriage. Trevor likes to pretend that the reason that we've never gotten married is because I'm not ready. This is true, but it's not like he's ready, either.

One of my coworkers (not RR) seems to think that being married makes her an adult - like you aren't really grown-up until you have a ring on your finger. Being married has also made her an authority on being married, and defines her life since graduation. Not that there is anything wrong with going from Daddy's house to husband's house, but I think having to take care of yourself - without daddy or husband (or boyfriend for that matter) - defines you more as a person than a band on your left hand.

Amstaff Mom said...

You have a very valid point, JLR. I hope I never bother you on that one.

Lia said...

I'm really happy you're happy, JLR. It's important to be happy with who and what you are and where you are in life.

Of course you can be a productive, successful woman without being married, and of course your life starts as soon as you are born. But I do think that it's valid to say that you can't be fully complete (I know, tautologous) on your own, because we need other people to complement us and fill in the gaps in our lives. And I think that marriage does complete a person. And as a single woman, I do really, really want to get married - to the right person - but I don't think I'm a horrible, failed person simply because I'm single.

I'm not sure that MSN is the ultimate authority on these things, but in any case, my issues with your quote: (1) Probably true. Is that the most important part of life, though? (2) Says who? Who's defining what "great things" are? Why can't a married woman achieve great things? Or is this supposed to indicate that marriage fulfills you so that you're not searching for other goals? Hmmm. (6) Again, what is supposed to support this? Do you lose brain cells when you get married? How do they know single people are better rested? (7) Most of the single woman I know are more depressed than the married ones. The married ones have a built-in emotional support system. (8) Possibly true, but a healthy marriage shouldn't negate friendships. Maybe you have less time, but that's not what determines quality.

Deals On Wheels said...

Ummm...I could be wrong here, but I think JLR was referencing the pressure unmarried women in their 30s sometimes experience.

Of course, the idea that women should have to be married to be happy is a social construction (i.e. not based in fact). Just like the idea that an unmarried forty year old woman has a better chance of falling victim to an act of terrorism than finding a husband (ummm,!).

JLR's post actually made me think of that scene in BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, where she is at a dinner party with a bunch of couples. Bridget is there without a date, and at one point one of the married women turns to her and asks:

"Why is it there are so many unmarried women in their thirties these days, Bridget?”

To which Bridget responds:

“Oh, I don't know. Suppose it doesn't help that underneath our clothes our entire bodies are covered in scales.”

Anyway, I think JLR’s point is that you don’t need to be married to feel happy and complete. If some great guy came along, swept her off her feet, and proposed - great. But there is no reason to be unhappy with life if it doesn’t happen that way. After all, there is a lot more to life than getting married. And marriage isn’t one of those things that you can say, “And I’ll be married by 26 and have my first baby at 28…” – you can’t treat it like planning your next vacation or long weekend. No one has any control over who they will meet when, and – assuming they do meet someone - if that someone will be the “right someone” (as opposed to the “someone right now”). Thus, since no one has any control over if/when it happens, it’s not logical to gauge happiness or quality of life by whether or not it has happened to you by whatever date/age/etc. Nevertheless, society tells us that we need to be married by a certain age to be happy, which (again) is ridiculous.

No one is attacking anyone’s desire to be married young, old or otherwise. Similarly, none of this is an attack on those fortunate enough to find their mate early in life (or those married by their 30th birthday). Good for them. All anyone is saying (or, at least, I’m saying) is that if you’re 30 (or 40, 50, 60, etc.) and not married – but happy and fulfilled – good for you, too! It’s OKAY to be single and happy. In my mind, JLR was just asserting this simple (yet, often forgotten, ignored or overlooked) truth…

Bobby said...

It's like I always say: it's better to have no one than the wrong one.

JLR said...

deals: that's pretty much exactly what I meant. I do really believe that God makes us whole and complete, and although I think other people can make me be a better person, no one else can make me complete. I also think that if you are looking for someone else to make you whole, then you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

Thanks for summarizing what I meant--and putting it better than I did.

JLR said...

bobby: exactly.

Hey . . . Isn't that what the moral of Some Kind of Wonderful was? We should all take a lesson from John Hughes.

And if anyone says they haven't seen that movie, then, well, I guess now you don't have to, because I've just told you what it's all about. But it's still a good movie, and it still has Eric Stoltz, and he's still some kind of wonderful himself.